Though she is most often associated with her famous aunt and uncle, Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia Engelhard was a distinguished painter and photographer in her own right. Engelhard enjoyed close relationships with both of these modern artists, frequently corresponding with and posing for Stieglitz, and finding guidance and companionship from O’Keeffe, with whom she often painted. Nicknamed “Georgia Minor,” Engelhard recalled spending summers at Lake George, painting alongside O’Keeffe, and watching Stieglitz photograph the surrounding environs, often ending the day with a lively critique of their work. Engelhard’s artistic debut occurred at the early age of nine, when Stieglitz mounted a show of her watercolors at his New York gallery, 291. As she continued to develop her style, Engelhard drew inspiration from Stieglitz’s cropped impressions of modern life, as well as O’Keeffe’s vibrant, abstracted paintings of the natural world. Their influence eventually led Engelhard to drop out of Vassar to pursue her creative endeavors professionally.
Engelhard’s energetic canvases also reflect her experience as an accomplished and vigorous mountaineer. In the face of a fear of heights, Engelhard became a record breaking climber, and was particularly enamored with the Canadian Rockies. Her bold spirit and passion for the mountains manifests in many of her works, such as In the Mountains, which showcases Engelhard’s mature use of color and compositional design. Painted in the 1920s, In the Mountains demonstrates the excellent draftsmanship and synthesis of abstraction and realism that she so admired in O’Keeffe’s work. Yet Engelhard had, writes Roxana Robinson, “an elegant sense of composition quite her own. A large decorative three-paneled screen by her, depicting deer climbing through mountains, reveals a strong sense of stylized pattern, and subtle rich color harmonies” (Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life, New York, 1989, p. 376). Commissioned by Engelhard’s cousins William Howard Schubart and Dorothy Obermeyer Schubart for their dining room, In the Mountains reflects the broadening American interest in decorative arts, particularly revealing the influence of the elegance of Art Deco works, as well as a contemporary fascination with the Japanese tradition of screen paintings.